CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy, now with even greater scale and diversity, is well-positioned to lead the electric utility industry in the years ahead, CEO Jim Rogers told company shareholders at their annual meeting today.
"Too often, big means slow and complacent. In contrast, we intend to be agile and innovative. I call it 'readiness for the road ahead,'" Rogers said at the first shareholder meeting since Duke Energy merged with Progress Energy in July 2012, becoming the world's largest publicly traded utility.
"Our board has taken responsible, deliberate and steady steps to ensure we meet the highest standards of corporate governance. We've remained focused on the continued strong performance of the company and positioning Duke Energy for long-term success," Rogers said at his final shareholder meeting as CEO.
Rogers completes his seven-year CEO tenure later this year. The board will select a new CEO, also later this year.
"We serve a diverse mix of stakeholders customers, communities, shareholders, employees and retirees. They and others have a stake in what we do and how we do it. We see it as a tremendous responsibility, and we intend to strike the right long-term balance," Rogers said.
"Post-merger, the company's Carolinas customers are benefitting from cost savings resulting from operation of its power plants as a more efficient, combined fleet," he said.
'The company's customers also are benefitting from the diversity of the company's regulated generating fleet, mostly a mixture of nuclear, coal and natural gas generation," Rogers said.
"The company is generating additional efficiencies and cost savings across all six states served by its regulated utilities, producing greater value for our customers and investors," he said.
Delivering to shareholders, protecting the environment
From the time Duke Energy announced the merger in January 2011 through the end of 2012, the company produced a total shareholder return of about 32 percent nearly double the return of the S&P 500 and the Philadelphia Utility Index, which tracks peer companies.
So far this year, Duke Energy has produced a total shareholder return of about 19 percent, and its stock price has hovered at or near all-time highs for the past several weeks.
In 2012, the company also raised its quarterly cash dividend to shareholders. This year marks the company's 87th straight year of paying a quarterly cash dividend on its common stock.
The company's financial performance has been accompanied by a strong environmental performance, Rogers said.
"We're upgrading existing power plants, retiring older, less-efficient plants and building new state-of-the-art plants," he said. "We're also diversifying our mix of fuels and technologies, increasing our efficiency and dramatically reducing our environmental impact.'
Since 1999, Duke Energy and its predecessor companies have invested about $7.5 billion to install air emissions controls on existing plants.
"By 2015, we expect to reduce our regulated generation fleet's emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by about 90 percent and 80 percent, respectively, from 2005 levels," Rogers said.
"We're retiring 3,800 megawatts of older coal- and oil-fired generating units by the end of this year. That retirement total could increase to as much as 6,800 megawatts over the next few years," he said.
Simultaneously, the company is rapidly expanding its fleet of renewable energy generating facilities, Rogers said.
"Since 2007, we've invested more than $2.5 billion to grow our commercial wind and solar business. Last year alone, we added five new wind farms and three new solar farms. We now have more than 1,700 megawatts of renewable energy capacity a total of 15 wind farms and 15 solar farms in 10 states," he said.
Duke Energy also is actively pursuing advanced technologies, including a state-of-the-art battery storage system at the company's Notrees wind farm in west Texas.
"This project is North America's largest battery storage system at a wind farm," Rogers said. "It has 28,000 batteries in a building the size of a football field. The project represents a potentially promising new technology to compensate for the variability of wind power."
Rogers said the company's board and senior management team remain "focused on the sustainable success of Duke Energy and a smooth transition for the next CEO."
Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with more than $110 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.2 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: www.duke-energy.com.